by Eleonore Pauwels and Jim Dratwa
Published in Scientific American, December 10, 2015,
Kannapolis, North Carolina, is a desolate town, plagued by unemployment since the main employer, a textile mill, suddenly closed its doors eleven years ago. In the aftermath of this shutdown, an elderly billionaire, David Murdock, who is curious about longevity and its genetic secrets, turned an enormous piece of land into a lucrative biotech complex. Not so bad, you might think, to revive the local economy, but the new campus mostly employed highly skilled scientists from renowned universities, not Kannapolis.
To the Kannapolites, Murdock offered a deal: let me extract your DNA for research on personalized diagnostics and treatments and you will get a $10 Walmart gift card. Many residents took the deal, and handed over their biological materials for an unlimited time. Without the resources to pay for the expensive treatments and cutting-edge medicine that could come from their genetic material, ordinary residents of the town are unlikely ever to reap the benefits of supplying their blood, urine and personal information… Read More